[UPDATE: Google isn't just eating crow about this, but is also punishing itself, by demoting Chrome in Google search results. According to a company statement:
We've investigated and are taking manual action to demote www.google.com/chrome
and lower the site’s PageRank for a period of at least 60 days. We strive to enforce Google’s webmaster guidelines
consistently in order to provide better search results for users. While Google did not authorize this campaign, and we can find no remaining violations of our webmaster guidelines, we believe Google should be held to a higher standard, so we have taken stricter action than we would against a typical site.
As I explain below, I think that the possibility of skewed search results was only one iffy aspect of this campaign, but it's good to see Google hold itself accountable.]
Yesterday, Aaron Wall and Danny Sullivan reported on an odd Google marketing campaign–okay, a troubling one–that apparently involved Google paying bloggers to publish posts that embedded a Google video featuring Vermont flour maker King Arthur Flour. The effort got mentions of Chrome onto hundreds of blogs–albeit hasty, lame references in at least some cases–and also looked like it might have been designed to juice Chrome’s Google rankings.
Today, Google is disowning the campaign, which it says was conducted without its knowledge by a company with the apt name Unruly Media. Unruly says that it didn’t intend to affect search rankings. But even if it didn’t, the notion of Google products being promoted through subsidized blog posts–abysmal subsidized blog posts–is painfully cheesy.
(It reminds me of Ogilvy’s plans to pay bloggers to write about LG Electronics, which I wrote about recently.)
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